Boredom Busters

Freakonomics: What Makes a Prefect Parent?

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner is a book that’s been around for a while, but I figure if I’ve just gotten around to reading it there are plenty of others who haven’t read it either. I had heard the buzz about this book, but hadn’t really paid much attention to it until one of my fellow PTA uber-moms told me that the book says that being on the PTA is the most significant thing you can do to assure academic success for your children. Well, that got my attention.

It turned out that her interpretation was a little bit self-serving, but it got me to read the book, and it is a great book, so I forgive her. If you haven’t read Freakonomics I highly recommend you pick it up.

You could say Freakonomics is either a book that takes a unique look at the world through the eyes of an economist, or is a unique take on economics by using it to look at the world - depending on whether you are an economist or a civilian. If you are a parent, especially an obsessive, urban parent, you will be quite anxious to read the chapter entitled, "What Makes a Perfect Parent?"

Find More Teachable Moments With Your Kids

We've been talking about the best schools in NYC on this site all month, but many experts will tell you that what happens at home is much more important than what school a child goes to. You don't have to be a homeschooler to find teachable moments during the course of your regular day. But, where do you begin? How do you know what to do and how? What is appropriate and at what ages?

Even though we don't homeschool, I like to read a homeschool curriculum each year. I read the outline of what the course will be focusing on and copy down the reading list. Then I keep those themes in the back of my mind and look for opportunities to work them in to our everyday. I get the books on the reading list from the library and those become our bedtime or anytime books. I find that this helps me feel involved in my children's education and also makes me feel confident that they are on track by my standards, not slipping through the cracks.

Up until now I have mostly focused on the social sciences because I think the schools do a good job of teaching reading and math in the early grades. The book that I like to follow is called The Well-Trained Mind and it is based on a Classical Education. Click on the link for an in depth definition of a Classical Education, but it basically means that the early years are spent absorbing the basic facts that every well-educated person should know and only later do students focus on expressing themselves creatively.

What do Hipster Parents Sound Like to Kids?

Simon Rich has written a hysterical version of what grown up conversation sounds like to kids in this week's New Yorker Shouts and Murmurs. It made me think about how much I enjoy The New Yorker now and how much I hated it as a kid.

In tribute to Simon Rich's piece, here's how I imagined my parents when reading The New Yorker as a kid:

DAD: This magazine is so great. It has so many words in it.

MOM: Look at the cover. It makes no sense. That's so clever.

DAD: (laughing) And, this cartoon isn't funny. That's the kind of cartoon I like, black and white cartoons that aren't funny.

MOM: I have an idea. Let's pick a movie based on these reviews to take the kids to. They'll love that.

OK. That got my juices flowing, so let's keep going with this.

Best Educational Toys for NYC Kids

Nowadays it seems like every hunk of plastic they sell at a toy store is marked educational. Sure, LeapFrog Toys are probably good and all that (I don't know if they'll teach your kid to read or anything), but what a NYC kid really needs is toys that will teach him to survive and thrive in the City. So Mommy Poppins' intrepid shoppers have gone out to find some of the best educational toys for NYC kids.

City Alphabet Books:Required Reading for the Urban Diaper Set

The urban blogging parents at Sweet Juniper have upped the ante on urban alphabet books. (via apartmenttherapy) Avoiding the trite apples and boa constrictors, they didn't just set the alphabet in the city, but used urban graffiti of hipster parent appropriate images. Look for H is for Homeless, I is for Icarus, and J is for Jew.They just did this for themselves, but due to popular demand, have made copies available for purchase via lulu, the self-publishing site.

Inspired, Mommy Poppins sought out the other great Urban Alphabet Books:

Off the Cuff Links:Play Forts

A collection of links on a random topic.

Forts are a great imagination-building activity for city kids on a cold winter day - or any day. Here's a collection of links to get your imagination going:

Wondertime (via nursery.apartmenttherapy) article featuring three different ways to build forts.

For the ambitious, check out MrMcGroovys awesome fort plans including instruction for cardboard castles and, perfect for city kids, skyscraper forts.

Playhut pop-up forts are perfect for apartment dwellers. One minute you have a suburban-style playroom, then fold it up, tuck it in the closet and nobody even knows you have kids.

For one dad's take on the fun of forts check out Ryan's Rage blog post, "Busy Hellions".

For more fort-building ideas pick up a copy of The Kid's Guide to Building Forts from Amazon.

Find more great activities like this in our Indoor Activities Guide.

 

 

Quality Time: Plant Some Garbage

Quality Time postings are dedicated to activities for spending time with your kids to get the most out of your time together.

Kids of all ages love gardening projects, especially ones that magically transform something from one thing to another. One minute that big juicy oval thing is a piece of fruit sitting on their plate, and the next it's an activity. Talk about getting to play with your food!

Everybody knows how to plant an avocado, but did you know you can also plant many other things like pineapples and mangos. Mangos actually make one of the most attractive houseplants.

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